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Part Two: Las Vegas Big Smoke Saturday Seminars

Lunch with the Fuentes

Three hours of cigar smoking is bound to spark an appetite. By 12:15, Big Smoke attendees had already heard from some huge names in the industry, and smoked their cigars as well, but now they were ready to eat.

This is the second year that it has been a non-smoking lunch. It's one of the sacrifices we have to make in order to comply with hotel policy, but that's not to say that there weren't any cigars. This year, the lunch was hosted by the Fuente Family, who provided two cigars to smoke after lunch: The Arturo Feunte Hemingway Classic, which recently scored 93 points in Cigar Aficionado, and a shorter-than-normal robusto sized Fuente Fuente OpusX with 12 years of age on it. A cigar like this is not commercially available and one of the exclusive perks for attendees of the Big Smoke Seminars.

"I know a lot of you guys like to age cigars before you smoke them," said Carlos Fuente Jr. "but please, smoke them. Smoke them now. We already did the aging for you."

Also in attendance was company patriarch Carlos Fuente Sr. and Fuente executive Wayne Suarez.

There was instant attraction to these OpusX cigars, as everyone in the entire room had taken them out of their packets, turning them, smelling them, and doing all they could to stop themselves from lighting up on the spot.

As Carlito spoke about his passion for making cigars, the first course was served, which was a lobster medallion salad with julienned green beans, poached fingerling potatoes, a julienne of black truffle and Xeres Vinaigrette.

Afterwards, Carlito started making his rounds, visiting each table, saying hello and talking to the attendees in his typically congenial manner. By this time, servers started to bring out the second course: Grilled Ribeye of beef with wilted arugula roasted garlic puree, tomato jam, and a layered sweet potato/Yukon gold potato Napolean. The main course was paired with a Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage Alexander Valley red wine from 2006. A perfect compliment.

Carlos Fuente Jr. (right) and Giovanni Savini, who created a presentation of photographs for the luncheon.

When the plates were cleared, someone else took the microphone. It was photographer Giovanni Savino, who claimed to have taken more than 8,000 pictures of Chateau de la Fuente, the Fuente factory and Fuente related themes. He spoke about the spiritual connection he felt as soon as he entered the factory and how this inspired him to take some beautiful photographs, which were presented on a slideshow scored to Spanish ballads. What it provided was not necessarily a virtual tour of the Fuente factory, but an artistic journey of the facility as seen through the eyes of an artist. The images of tobacco and cigars were dark, mysterious, shadowy and presented in such a way that one could only see through this type of show.

Dessert shortly followed, which was dark roasted mousse with roasted cocoa nibs served with a sour cherry red wine chutney. Some people, however, skipped dessert altogether and couldn't wait any longer to light up that 12-year-old OpusX . It was the perfect way to end a lunch, and these cigar enthusiasts still had a lot to look forward too: another night of the Big Smoke evening session and another day of seminars.

Photos by Sjodin Photography

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